At a time when I was feeling battered, uncertain, and living in a foreign land on the second floor of a small concrete house, at the end of a dead-end alley, in an unheated room with a window looking out on the rusting roof next door, his words were a gift. This unlikely collection of articles encouraged me and refreshed me and introduced me to the novels of Rex Stout and the inscrutable Nero Wolfe. And gave me the courage to lead a group of eight graders through St. John’s Revelation with wonder and joy. And years later led me back to read T.S. Eliot anew.
I recently happened across another of his books at a second-hand store, and now that I’ve read it and gifted it to its next owner, I can write about it here. 😉 I’m not this book’s target audience; I don’t share their vocation. But what it has to say on prayer and “subversive spirituality” and the kingdom of God sparks within my soul. And it makes me want to write poetry again. 😉
More on prayer and subversion in the days ahead, but here’s a bit on the kingdom of God to begin:
Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imaginations, which if we aren’t careful becomes the exercise of our faith.
Parables subversively slip past our defenses. Once they’re inside of the citadel of self, we might expect a change of method, a sudden brandishing of bayonets resulting in a palace coup. But it doesn’t happen. Our integrity is honored and preserved. God does not impose his reality from without; he grows flowers and fruit from within. God’s truth is not an alien invasion but a loving courtship in which the details of our common lives are treated as seeds in our conception, growth, and maturity in the kingdom.